Little is known about the life of English lutenist Francis Cutting. He was a musician for the Howard family (Anne Boleyn’s peeps), and one of his ten children, Thomas, also became a respected lutenist.
What is known is Cutting’s music. He wrote “Packington’s Pound,” which has been recorded countless times by early music ensembles. He’s also known for a set of variations, the “Divisions on Greensleeves.”
Cutting wrote over fifty works for the lute, and this recording features a little over a third of them. Cutting’s exceptional playing ability allowed him to create music with intricate polyphony and rapid scalework.
Domenico Cerasini seems to match Cutting in ability. His performances are calm and assured — a player in full command of his instrument and the music. Cutting’s music is quite intellectual and carefully constructed. Cerasini takes care to articulate the structure of each work. It’s not just that melodic lines are brought to the fore. Supporting tones are also given different weights depending on their function.
Take “Four Divisions on Packington’s Pound,” for example. The melody is the loudest. But quite present is the ground bass, providing a firm foundation for the variations. Additional notes sound softer, providing a multi-layered texture to the music.
This is an excellent portrait of Francis Cutting, both as a composer and as a performer. Domenico Gerasani brings these delicate masterworks to life.
Francis Cutting: Lute Music
Domenico Gerasani, lute
Brilliant Classics 96099